Lunges: What are Lunges | How to do Lunges | Muscle Involved, Variations
Lunges are a compound exercise that strengthens your lower body muscles. Lunges involve multiple muscles at the same time, making it a compound exercise. Lunges are very beneficial and effective in terms of resistance training. In this article I am going to try and cover topics like, How to do Lunges? What are the variations of this exercise? What are the muscles involved in lunges? And compare lunges with squats to conclude which exercise can prove to be better. We will also take a look at the common mistakes that can be made while performing lunges so that you can prevent yourself from making any of those. I will also make sure to add a few extra tips and benefits of lunges in the end, so that you’re able to make the most of this exercise.
Lunges in my opinion is ‘THE’ exercise on a leg day. It involves some of the biggest muscles in the human body, which boosts the intensity of this exercise as a whole. Lunging also has a few variations that can be used to specifically target a muscle to maximize your ‘leg gainz’.
What are lunges and how to do them?
If we go by definition, lunges are a compound exercise that strengthens the muscles in the lower body. Lunges are a bit intense when compared to squats and require a good sense of balance. Lunges are a pretty difficult exercise and can be mastered only by practice. Literally, no one I know has ever performed lunges perfectly or even close to perfect on the first try. So before moving any forward in the article let’s take a look at the steps to perform the lunges.
How to do lunges?
Start by standing upright with your hands no your waist. Then take a step ahead of you and lower your body by bending your knees. The leg which you used to take the step will be called the lunging leg. Bend the lunging leg until it makes a right angle at the knee. Make sure that the toes of your rear leg are always touching the floor.
Now push through the ground using the lunging leg and get back into the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
You can perform this exercise with both legs alternatingly in the same set or have different sets for each leg. It’s completely up to you.
Variations for Lunges
Even though lunges in itself is an effective workout, you can get used to it after a few weeks of training. Here’s where the different variations of the lunges come into play. With these variations, you can keep it interesting as well as challenge yourself every time you workout. The below mentioned list of exercises has some of the most interesting and challenging variations of the traditional lunge exercise. Make sure to add a few of these into your workout routine to keep things interesting.
1. Side lunges
My idea for the side lunge is that, there are a lot of movements and activities a person can do. But the traditional lunge exercise is confined to just moving back and forth. Hence, the side lunge. In side lunge, you have to take step to your side and lunge with a leg while stretching out your other leg. Side lunges provide great functional strength by working on the inner thighs, quads and glutes simultaneously. Adding the side lunges to your workout routine can never be a mistake.
Steps to perform a side lunge –
Stand upright and take a step to your side. Make sure that your stationary leg is stretched out. Now bend your knee and lunge until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Now push through the ground and get back into the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
2. Walking lunges
The standard lunge exercise is a more stationary exercise when compared to walking lunges. In walking lunges, instead of getting back into the starting position after lunging one of your legs, you have to take a step and lunge with your other leg. This movement makes you go forward hence, the name walking lunges.
Walking lunges are better at engaging your core in the workout as you have to constantly balance yourself according to the movement. Walking lunges are great for the mobility of the lower body while also proving to be a great strength exercise. Let’s take a look at the steps to perform a walking lunge.
Steps to perform a walking lunge –
Stand upright and lunge with one of your legs. After lunging, instead of going back into the starting position, bring your rear leg to your lunging leg as if you’re taking a step or ‘walking’. Now repeat the same with the other leg.
3. Curtsy lunge
Curtsy lunge is by far the most interesting exercise on this list. This exercise focuses primarily on the glutes and can stabilize your body posture. It is a challenging exercise which is very fun to do. You may find performing the curtsy lunge difficult at first, but that won’t be a problem after a few weeks of training.
Steps to perform the curtsy lunge –
Stand straight with your hands on your waist. Now take a big step back with one leg in such a way that you’re crossing it over the other leg. Now lunge with the leg that is front of you by bending your knees and going as deep as you can. Now push through the ground and get back into the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
4. Weighted lunges
Adding weight to a certain exercise is the easiest way to increase the volume of that exercise. Lunges, even though a difficult exercise, can be a bit boring after a few weeks of training. So feel free to use weights as way to challenge yourself and force your muscles to grow. You can use a kettle bell, dumbbells or even a barbell, whatever’s the most convenient to you. Just make sure that you hold the kettle bell near your chest, the dumbbells at your side and the barbell behind your neck. The rest of the exercise is exactly the same.
5. Reverse lunge
It is pretty easy to understand this exercise after reading its name. Very straight forward I think. So I won’t bore you with the steps of this exercise. Just take a step back instead of taking a step in front. Then lunge with the leg that is front. Repeat this with the other leg [the usual]. But, there may arise a question. Why to perform an exercise backwards? Well, the reverse lunges adds some excess load onto the gluteus maximus. It will definitely increase strength in the glutes and also enhance the aesthetics of your lower body over time.
Muscled involves in lunges
- Gluteus maximus – It is the largest and the outermost muscle from the three gluteal muscles. Gluteus maximus is the muscle that is responsible for the perky shape of the rear. Hence, working on this muscle is the best to have a good looking butt.
- Hamstrings – Hamstrings are the muscles that lie between the hips and the knees, behind the thighs. The hamstrings flex the knee joint and stretch out the thigh in reverse to drive movement.
- Quadriceps – Rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius together are called the quadriceps. These muscles are responsible for the most major lower body movements.
These are the major muscles that are worked while lunging. There are also other muscles that aren’t the primary target when doing lunges, but still are involved in the exercise. Those muscles include the abdominal muscles, back muscles and calves.
Lunges or squats? –
Squatting is a far more popular and commonly seen exercise when compared to lunges. But that doesn’t make one better than the other. In my opinion, both of these exercises are the best at what they’re meant to do for your muscles and one should add both of these to their workout routine. Personally, I can’t pick a favorite as I love doing both of these exercise. But I am definitely biased towards squats as, it is easy to master and progress. With that said, lunges provide all the benefits that squats can provide with some additional benefits that makes trying it worth the effort. I would not recommend you to choose one of these when you can easily make both of these exercises a part of your routine.
Common mistakes made while lunging –
- Either too short or too long! – A majority of people make this mistake when first doing lunges. The step taken before lunging shouldn’t be very near to the body but also shouldn’t be very far away. It can cause misbalance make you fall resulting to injuries. Always keep the distance of your lunging leg from your body in check. It shouldn’t be too short or too long. The best way to ensure your stepping the same distance every time, place an object or draw a line as a reference.
- Leaning – People tend to lean their backs when performing lower body exercises. Try to avoid that tendency as much as you can. Keep your back in a neutral position at all times to ensure a correct posture.
- Aggressively jerking the ‘push back’ movement – You need to be gentle to yourself when getting back into position after lunging. Jerking the movement just to get done with the rep can cause some serious injuries. You might pull a muscle or add stress on your knees while doing so. So avoid aggression while performing lunges to negate any chance of an injury.
Benefits of lunges
As mentioned earlier, lunges are a compound exercise meant for the strengthening of the lower body. But, the benefits aren’t limited to just strengthening. Lunges also provide a sense of stability and is slightly helpful in rectifying any misbalances in your body. It is also very beneficial in enhancing the mobility of your joints. This results in better performance in various sport activities or even day to day activities. Lunges along with its other variations that are mentioned in this article can give you muscular thighs and perkier glutes. This exercise proves to be good for both strength and aesthetics making it a very important exercise to add to your workout routine.
Tips and tricks for lunges
Lunging isn’t extremely difficult to perform, but a beginner may find it challenging at first. These are some tips for the beginners to avoid making mistakes and reap the benefits of lunges.
- While performing lunges, use your core actively to keep yourself balanced and stable. Keep in mind that you are not supposed to lean forward or back because that can disrupt your form. Trust me, you would not like to fall over with your one leg lunging.
- Always make sure to place your lunging leg firmly on the ground. See to it that you have a good grip or else you can slip and hurt your knee or ankle. Hurting your joints is not ideal for the long run.
- Refrain from taking a huge step when lunging. Find an optimum length that your body is comfortable with and stick to it. See to it that you don’t find it difficult to maintain your form at this length. That’s when you know it’s the perfect length for you [wink].
- Even though lunging is an awkward movement, you can get used to it after some time. So do not forget to challenge yourself with more reps and different variations of the lunges. Try to keep it interesting as well as keep getting stronger.
Follow these tips during your workout and prevent yourself form getting hurt while making fantastic gainz.
The bottom line
Lunges are definitely an upgrade form the generic leg workouts like squats. It adds a bit of challenge and excitement to the workout routine once you know how to do it correctly. Take all the necessary precautions and follow all the tips and advice provided throughout the article. On that note, I would like to end the article and wish you all the best!!!